Bears vague on Johnny Knox timetable

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Good morning. We'll start our a barrage of blog posts from the NFC coaches breakfast with the Chicago Bears, who I acknowledged earlier have gotten a bit of the short shrift this week. I spent about 20 minutes at coach Lovie Smith's table Wednesday morning, and we'll start off with his response to a report that receiver Johnny Knox will not be ready to start the 2012 season because of a back injury he suffered last season.

Smith refused to put a timetable on Knox's return and said: "It would be hard for me to go into that right there. Are you a religious man? Do you talk to God? He can probably tell you. Besides that, it's going to be pretty hard."

Informed that doctors can often make reliable projections, Smith said: "They guess sometimes. Doctors know? Give me his number and I'll call him as soon as we stop talking. I just know that Johnny is working hard each day. He has made a lot of progress. That's all we want, for Johnny to keep rehabbing, which is what he's doing. It's amazing how people are already diagnosing when he's coming back. It's a little early for that."

That was Smith's somewhat defiant attempt to avoid committing on the return of a player who suffered a frightening, serious injury and has a long way to go before he can even think about playing again. In the meantime, the Bears have fortified the position by acquiring Brandon Marshall and signing free agent Eric Weems, who can play receiver but also replace Knox as a secondary returner to Devin Hester.

It would not be surprising in the least if Knox opened the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but neither Smith nor God need to make that decision yet. So they haven't. Yet.